The Islanders will play their first game of the season tonight without the services of second-leading scorer Kyle Okposo — out 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury — but will return a key forward against the Rangers, as Mikhail Grabovski (lower body) draws in for the first time in five games.
Grabovski, who also missed time earlier this season with a concussion, has just six goals and 14 points this year. Those are hardly the returns New York GM Garth Snow envisioned upon signing the 31-year-old to a four-year, $20 million deal last summer.
But the Okposo injury provides an opportunity.
Grabovski took today’s morning line rushes alongside captain John Tavares and Josh Bailey on the top line, and could see a notable uptick in playing time from his usual 14:28 per game. Okposo was averaging nearly 20 minutes a night prior to getting hurt and was a regular contributor on the power play (averaging 3:45 TOI per night with the man advantage).
Okposo also leads the Isles in power-play assists, with 12.